Martinsville Bulletin: Decision Time: Council sets funding for schools, public safety

Martinsville Bulletin: Decision Time: Council sets funding for schools, public safety

April 25, 2017

MARTINSVILLE – Level funding will be provided to the city’s public schools, police department and fire department for the new fiscal year that will start July 1.

That will keep the fire department from having to eliminate its part-time firefighters.

Martinsville City Council made that decision in a unanimous vote Tuesday night before adopting on first reading a proposed $92 million budget for fiscal 2018.

 The school division asked for an increase in funding.

“We’re appreciative that we can get at least level funding,” schools Superintendent Zeb Talley said after the council took its vote. “I know the city’s in a tough financial situation.”

Talley said, however, that he expects the schools still will have to make some budget cuts.

The council also voted to fully fund Henry-Martinsville Social Services’ and Piedmont Arts’ budget requests. It recently had voted to level fund social services at $331,812 and reduce the arts association’s allocation by $10,740 to match Henry County’s appropriation of $8,500.

Social services had asked for an increase of $19,738 to $351,550. Agency Director Tanya Verlik said the increase from the city is crucial to the agency being able to receive a special state allocation of $500,000 needed to hire more staff to handle rising caseloads. The state allocation also is needed, she said, to give employees pay raises to discourage them from leaving and going to local social services departments elsewhere that can provide “a little less stress and a little more money.”

 Piedmont Arts sought level funding of $19,240. Executive Director Kathy Rogers mentioned that the association provides programs for children. She said those programs are especially important now as the schools have limited funding and are facing potential cuts.

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